Hip-hop legend Slick Rick, who faced deportation over a 1997 warrant, received a full and unconditional pardon from New York Gov. David Paterson on Friday.
Rick – originally from London, England – has been in-and-out court for almost two decades, beginning with an attempted murder conviction in 1991, for which he served over five years in prison.
But more recently in 2002, he was arrested by immigration agents as he returned to Miami, Florida, from a cruise in the Caribbean islands.
According to officials, his arrest was for a 1997 warrant that was not initially pursued, but then enforced years later as part of the Homeland Security crackdown following September 11, 2001.
Slick Rick, born Richard Walters, spent another 17 months in jail – despite appeals for his release from actor Will Smith, comedian Chris Rock, and activist Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Rick, now 43, was finally glad to hear the news of his pardon.
“This has been a long and difficult road, and I am happy for this to be settled once and for all,” Rick said.
“I look forward to enjoying this time with my family and friends and to continue leading an honest and productive life.”
Gov. Paterson added that Walters had “an exemplary disciplinary record while in prison and on parole” – noting he is now a Bronx landlord, and father of two teenagers, who gives back to his community through youth outreach programs.
Slick Rick is best known for his 1980s classics “Children’s Story” and “La-Di-Da-Di,” as well as his signature eye-patch and heavy jewelry.
In recent years, he has appeared on records with artists Jay-Z, Chamillionaire, Ghostface, and AZ.